cover image Jumpstart the World

Jumpstart the World

Catherine Ryan Hyde, Knopf, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-375-86665-4

Just before Elle's 16th birthday, her mother dumps her in her own New York City apartment (her stepfather "[doesn't] want a teenager around"). Alone, except for a one-eyed cat who mostly hides, she is grateful for neighbors Frank and Molly, whom she grows close to. Elle develops a crush on kind and wise Frank, but when she learns he is transgender, she wonders what this means about her own identity. Readers will be moved by Elle's thoughtful and honest narration, which genuinely reads like someone sorting through a complex situation—and her complicated emotions (when Frank offers help with her sick cat, she thinks, "It's not that I didn't appreciate his help. And it's not like I was judging him for his life choices. It's more like... If I could just have more time to swallow things"). While some plotting seems clichéd, such as Elle's decision to become a photographer so she can "remind the world to be what it knows it should be," even these familiar turns underscore the author's message about a universal need for love and acceptance. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)